January 30, 2009

What a Bummer - Northern Voice Sold Out

What a bummer! The Northern Voice 2009 conference was sold out before I even heard about it. I attended the last couple of years, and I'm surprised there apparently was no notification to previous attendees that registration was open. Not that I'm a super blogger by any means, but I have enjoyed the previous conferences....

I guess I should have stayed subscribed to the RSS feed, but I don't see how an email to previous registrants could have hurt.

Posted by Paul at 02:08 PM

Friday Feast of Media Glitches

As an editor by trade, I can't help but notice when things go awry on the printed page. We all need editors. Editors need editors! Here are three items that popped out at me this morning:

1) From a Vancouver Courier article about the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, of which I chair the board.

Part of the article describes the history of how the watershed education/community art program started. The first mural went around a vacant, rubble-filled lot ten years ago:

...The eyesore sat abandoned while the owner fought with the city council of the day for permission to build a hotel.

"I just looked horrible," says [SDMS founder] Towell...

Yes, "I" should have been "It".

It was a great story, though!

2) The Vancouver Sun waffles on usage with Canadian Forces on page B1:

"The Canadian Forces have been taking a low-key approach to its involvement in the Games."

3) The Vancouver Sun slashes the population of the GVRD, now known as Metro Vancouver, on page A6:

"The total amount of regional parkland increased to 66,300 hectares in 2006.... But due to increased population, the amount of parkland per capita dropped to 29.8 hectares...."

Hm, that puts the Metro Vancouver population at 2,225.

Posted by Paul at 08:50 AM

January 29, 2009

Muddy Byrne Creek

Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby, BC, looked pretty muddy this afternoon, even though the rain had stopped for several hours. I tracked it as high as near the Edmonds Skytrain Station, and the water up there was still muddy, so it wasn't erosion in the ravine. Hope nobody was pumping out a construction site into a storm drain -- all drains connect directly to the creek, and baby fish will be hatching soon.

City staff responded immediately and said they'd check it out.


Posted by Paul at 03:24 PM

January 26, 2009

SATA Hard Drive Dock

Ever-increasing file sizes for digital photos are eating up hard disk space. I have a 16GB CF card in my Nikon D300 DSLR, and can fill that up in a day's shooting no problem. (To think that the first hard drive that I bought and installed in a computer around 20 years ago was a measly 32MB -- yes, that's MB, not GB! And it seemed huge in the days of DOS 3.X...)

Of course when I download photos to my computer, I immediately trash any that are out of focus, badly framed, poorly exposed, etc., but I've found HD space disappearing at an ever-increasing rate. The other issue is archiving, or backing up files. Even DVD-Rs seem small when it takes a dozen or more -- and growing daily -- to back my photo folders.

Enter the Unitek SATA Hard Drive Docking Station. I'm not sure if this is the maker, but anyway, this website has some nice photos and a good description of this cool gizmo's specs.


Basically it's an external dock that plugs into a USB 2.0 port, and you can hot-swap SATA hard drives into it. It also has a couple of downstream USB ports and a slew of memory card readers for good measure. I picked one up today at NCIX in Burnaby for $39.99, along with a Seagate 750GB 7200 rpm SATA2 hard drive for $89.99.

That ought to hold me for a bit, and the great thing is that you can simply pop additional HDs in and out of the dock as you please for backup, offsite storage, etc.

Posted by Paul at 07:49 PM

January 25, 2009

Birding Bonanza at Reifel Sanctuary

Yumi and I spent three hours ambling around the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta, BC this morning. We had a great time, and I took 572 shots with my Nikon D300... Yikes! When I got home I winnowed that down by about half.

Got some good shots of lots of different species of birds, and today was a sandhill crane special -- to our surprise they were even eating out of people's hands! Not sure if it's such a great idea to get them that acclimatized to humans...

Ocean view from the sanctuary.

Walking along one of the dikes.

Swans in foreground against the north shore mountains.

The first of several shots of sandhill cranes.




You can see grains of wheat in this one's beak.

Head closeup with eyelid open... next shot same bird, eyelid closed.

Eyelid closed.


Cooper's Hawk (?) hunting the marsh.

Female mallard walking on ice.

Male mallard.

Female mallard eating grain.

American coot.

I believe this is a ring-necked duck.

Northern pintail.

Red-winged blackbirds mobbing a feeder.

A closer look at a blackbird.

This towhee appeared to be injured or ill.

What's a bunch of birds without a pigeon?

Yumi tempting chickadees with sunflower seeds and chopped walnuts.

A chickadee lands on Yumi's hand.

And one snags a sunflower seed.

Here's a little cutie... I'm still terrible at IDing these small ones...

And a closing shot of the lovely surroundings.

Posted by Paul at 08:02 PM

January 24, 2009

Think We're Flush With Water?

In an article in The Economist's The World in 2009 annual forecast, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, chairman of Nestle, says:

"I am convinced that, under present conditions and with the way water is being managed, we will run out of water long before we run out of fuel."

The reasoning being that it takes thousands of litres of water to grow enough food for one person per day. Yes, that's for one person's daily diet in an industrialized nation of meat eaters. Or how about several thousands of litres of water to grow enough plant matter to produce one litre of biofuel?

Posted by Paul at 09:43 PM

January 22, 2009

Vancouver Sun on Threats to Fish

The Vancouver Sun published a story today on Water crossings pose serious threat to fish: report. While as a volunteer streamkeeper I'm happy to see coverage of threats to migration of fish, some of the conclusions raise a resounding "Duh!"

As in "Culverts and bridges are a little-known threat to migration." Right, as if we didn't know.

But now perhaps more people will know.

Question is whether anything will be done about it.

Posted by Paul at 08:25 PM

CBC Story on Invasive Plants in BC

CBC has run a story on invasive plants in BC. It's about time the mass media began covering this issue. Streamkeepers and other groups have been putting in thousands of collective volunteer hours battling these non-native plants that overpower and kill native species, leading to monocultures that destroy habitat.

Posted by Paul at 07:08 PM

SFU ACT Team Releases Climate-Change Papers

The ACT (Adaptation to Climate Change Team) at Simon Fraser U has released a couple of papers that may be of interest to people in BC.

White Paper on Climate Change Planning for BC


Climate Adaptation and Biodiversity: An Ecological and Community Perspective

Posted by Paul at 01:42 PM

Cool NFB Streaming Video Website

The National Film Board has a new streaming video website to which they've posted many NFB films from over the decades.

You can search by category. For example, under "environment", I found this 1975 salmon migration and spawning documentary.

You can also search by keyword, and a few that I found useful as a streamkeeper are "salmon," "fish," "fishing," and "fisheries."

Once you're watching a film, lists of related films pop up.

Very cool! Potentially hugely time-wasting, er, I mean educational.

Yikes! As I watch the above salmon movie, it's bringing up issues that we're still nattering about nearly 35 years later...

You could spend hours deconstructing these films. For example, in the 1949 film Red Runs the Fraser, there was no mention that the slides that blocked fish passage in the Fraser River at Hell's Gate were caused by railway construction.

Posted by Paul at 12:04 PM

January 21, 2009

Odd Disclaimer at YWCA

I saw this notice on the wall next to a meeting room at the Vancouver YWCA. I was there for a meeting of the Editors' Association of Canada, and I'm sure there must be dozens of other groups that use the meeting rooms as well.


The notice made me smile as I wondered what the story was behind it, and I began imagining some raving nut berating a poor YMCA staff member about something said in a meeting completely unrelated to the organization.

It also made me wonder, as I so often find myself doing, about what ever happened to common sense!

Posted by Paul at 10:37 PM

Obama Speech Websites

I ran across these websites that will be useful for the speechwriting course that I'm taking. Whatever your political leanings, Obama has had some great speeches, both in the writing and the delivery.

The official inauguration website.

The Barack Obama website page featuring his speeches.

Posted by Paul at 04:54 PM

January 20, 2009

Zombie Postal Mail Accounts

Aaargh! They have risen again! The undead postal mail addresses.

I thought that I'd gotten rid of them, but today we received not one, but two, envelopes from TD Canada Trust, sent to the previous owners of our home -- over seven years since we bought the place.

We were initially in contact with the old owners for a few months, but we've long lost track of them. TD Canada Trust is the worst offender. We have written MOVED on envelopes from them and returned the mail to Canada Post. We have physically taken mail from TD Canada Trust to a local branch two or three times and asked that they update their records.

All had been quiet for nearly a year, but the zombies are back!

We have other undead as well -- we still get forwarded the occasional letter (usually donation solicitations) from the people who moved into the apartment we'd had before we bought this place. I've told them to trash anything that still appears, but they feel obliged to send it on...

All signs of apparently uncorrectable errors in databases everywhere... I wonder how bad the data rot gets?

Posted by Paul at 03:20 PM

Obama Inauguration

Well, I've decided to watch the inauguration on TV this morning. It is historic, and I am a communications guy...

But the first few minutes on Global (just after 8:00 a.m. PST), were not promising, with "everyone wondering what the women are wearing." I don't give a c**p what the women are wearing, and I don't understand why anyone would. Sheesh.

They're projecting 2 million (!) people will attend, the most for any presidential inauguration ever.

Wow, Bill Clinton looks absolutely somber. A grimace, too...

George Bush senior looks so old... But at least he looks game and happy.

Now hugs between the Clintons and senior Bushes.

And here we go with the Canadian navel-gazing. We gotta make sure we get that all-important Canadian perspective.

Jimmy Carter is still trucking along. George Bush senior just swapped salutes with a guard and then patted him on the bum. A football game may break out!

There's Al Gore, just a flash.

The crowd on the Mall is amazing. I have to say Washington is a beautiful city, at least the museums, monuments and public spaces. Yumi and I visited a couple of years ago and had a great time. Here are some photos.

When I was watching inauguration specials last night, I was amazed at how much things have changed within my lifetime. I'm just a tish too young to personally remember the early days of the civil rights movement, but it resonates with me. It's hard to believe there was still such blatant, horrible racism just a few decades ago. Not that it's it's all gone and it's all sweetness and light today -- not by any means -- but there has been enormous change.

I wonder if we could ever have, say, a First Nations prime minister in Canada. Oops, there I go with the Canadian reference! So much commentary is about Canadian excitement about the US election, and perhaps envy, but look at the political sad sacks we've saddled ourselves with in Canada.

OK, the man of the hour approaches. Joe Biden is announced, and Barack is on the way.

It's hard to summon words to describe the crowd. Dozens of cliches come to mind, but Newman has taken the right approach, shutting up and letting the crowd roar for itself. Well, the commentary stopped for perhaps three seconds... :-).

And here he is. I guess I should put down my tuna casserole and focus. (Hey, the excitement made me hungry!)

The oath of office is 35 words.

So the commentators are speaking over Feinstein's opening remarks. Hush!

Warren, invocation. Some controversy here... It was actually pretty good... But I still find the whole prayer business uncomfortable. What about separation of church and state?

"Our school doesn't want us to watch this, so we have to stream it..." A live blog or Twitter post that just scrolled by on Global. Sheesh. What an excellent teaching opportunity!

John Williams musical interlude. "This will be big, it will be glorious, it will be incredibly moving..." Newman.

A stumble, but Obama is sworn in.

Obama address

in the midst of crisis
nation at war against network of violence and hatred
greed of some
homes lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered
sapping of confidence
nagging fear
challenges we face are real
they will be met
we have chosen hope over fear
unity of purpose
the time has come to set aside childish things
all are equal
all are free
all deserve a chance to pursue a full measure of happiness
greatness must be earned
no shortcuts
the risk takers, the doers
men and women obscure in their labor
for us they toiled
worked and sacrificed so we may live a better life
this is the journey we continue today
our capacity remains undiminished
the time has passed to protect narrow interests
take up the work of remaking America
Everywhere we look there is work to be done
Restore science to its rightful place
All this we can do, all this we will do.
There are some who question the scale of our ambitions
They have forgotten what we have already done
Spend wisely
Reform bad habits
Restore trust between people and government
Without a watchful eye markets can spin out of control
We will not give up ideals
We are ready to lead once more
Our power alone cannot protect us or entitle us to do as we please
Lessen nuclear threat
Global warming
You cannot outlast us and we will defeat you.
Our patchwork heritage is a strength not a weakness
Christians Jews Muslims and non-believers
The old hatreds will someday pass
Our common humanity will reveal itself
People will judge you on what you can build not what you destroy
We will extend our hand if you are willing to unclench your fist
We cannot consume world's resources...
Spirit of service
Willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves
As much as govt can do and must do, it is ultimately on the people...
Parents' willingness to nurture a child decides our fate
honesty, hard work, courage, fair play, tolerance, curiosity
Return to these truths
A return to responsibility that we seize gladly
Giving our all to a difficult task
Father might not have been served at a local restaurant
Who we are and how far we have traveled

Oops, got lost there... powerful.

Some of the speech was a thinly veiled repudiation of the Bush administration.

Poem: Elizabeth Alexander

Benediction -- more religion... OK, it was fun.

Challenge for Canadians to get this involved in politics is now the theme of commentary. This is an American show and the Americans do it better than anyone else -- Burney

Commentary -- Obama is now free to start moving ahead. Can say things, do things he hasn't been able to say so far.

Obama first president to be at the tail end of the baby boomers. Generational change.

Fairly rapid departure for Bush. Just a quick wave from the chopper.

A moment Americans will feel wistful about -- Let's be fair, a lot of people have been waiting for this moment (commentary).


OK, switch over to CNN for some US coverage.

Obama aides already in White House, some still being cleared. Getting to work!

Obama signs document -- he's a hook lefty. I'm a under-up lefty :-).

Obama has excellent penmanship. Wolf is impressed!

CNN commentary also of the tenor that people were not waving goodbye to Bush, but waving him on his way...

We are now parsing seating arrangements at the luncheon. As they say, all smiles now, but just wait....

The inauguration is said to be the largest "security event" in US history.

CNN's Gergen: Perhaps Obama's speech was not lofty enough for the ages, but a powerful one for today.

Well, I better get back to work.

To see the entire speech as written, go on to the extended entry:

"My fellow citizens:

"I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and co-operation he has shown throughout this transition.

"Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

"So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

"That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

"These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land ? a nagging fear that America?s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America ? they will be met.

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

"We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

"In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted ? for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things ? some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

"For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

"For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

"For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

"Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

"This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions ? that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

"For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act ? not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology?s wonders to raise health care?s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun, and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

"Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions ? who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

"What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them ? that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works ? whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public?s dollars will be held to account ? to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day ? because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

"Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control ? and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart ? not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

"As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience?s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

"Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

"We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort ? even greater co-operation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus ? and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

"To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society?s ills on the West ? know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

"To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world?s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

"As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honour them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment ? a moment that will define a generation ? it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

"For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter?s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent?s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends ? hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism ? these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility ? a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

"This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

"This is the source of our confidence ? the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

"This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed ? why men, and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

"So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America?s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

??Let it be told to the future world ? that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive ? that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].??

"America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children?s children that when we were tested, we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God?s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

Posted by Paul at 08:11 AM

January 18, 2009

Byrne Creek Patrol Jan. 18, 2009

Yumi and I walked the ravine portion of Byrne Creek this afternoon for the first time in over a week. As we suspected, there was some significant erosion following the melting of the heavy snow we've had over the last few weeks.

Heading down the stairs into the ravine.

Tree fallen into creek at eroded bank.

A closer view.

Wild looking fungus on a fallen log.

Posted by Paul at 08:49 PM

January 17, 2009

Misty Burnaby Lake Wildfowl

Following the wildlife tree workshop, Yumi and I spent some time on Piper Spit enjoying the spooky view of Burnaby Lake in the mist, and the variety of ducks and geese.


Eagle in the mist.

Photographer on the spit in the mist.

Another view...

A kaleidoscope of ducks and geese.

A stylish wood duck couple.

Yumi and Canada Goose ogle each other.

From the end of the spit the shore was barely visible in the mist.

Posted by Paul at 09:26 PM

Metro Vancouver Habitat Tree Workshop

The Metro Vancouver Wildlife Tree Stewardship Workshop this morning was educational and fun. It was held at Burnaby Lake Park as part of the Metro Van Parks Partners Program.

The workshop was run by the Wildlife Tree Stewardship program of BC Nature. Participants learned about the importance of wildlife trees -- trees in various stages of death and decay -- as habitat and food sources for many animals including bugs, birds, and mammals. We also learned to identify stages of tree decay, and how to fill out and submit forms about wildlife trees, their locations, and wildlife using them.

The group discussing a likely wildlife tree.


Examining holes in a wildlife tree.

Four Byrne Creek Streamkeepers attended the event, and perhaps we can put our new knowledge to use in mapping wildlife trees in Byrne Creek ravine.

Posted by Paul at 08:57 PM

January 16, 2009

Stream of Dreams Newsletters - Prez Says

I'm going to post all of my President's Messages from Stream of Dreams Murals Society Newsletters here on my blog to help get the society some PR. I'll just do all of the old ones on this date, and then post fresh ones in the future.

My president's message for the December 2008 Stream of Dreams Murals Society Newsletter:

People are complaining about soggy west-coast winter weather. I say it?s all in the head. I love the autumn rains because they stimulate returning salmon to swim up creeks and streams.

Why not view things positively? Instead of SAD being Seasonal Affective Disorder, think of it as Salmon Arrival Delight! I admit sun is nice, too, so the water is not too high and you can see the fish when you?re counting them, or simply appreciating the wonder of their return.

The Stream of Dreams program is about water, and deals with issues that can cast a gloomy cloud: pollution, rampant urbanization, watershed destruction, detachment from nature, and so on. Yet our teams do a great job of sharing beauty and hope while enhancing community spirit. Our teachers help students come up with positive actions that the kids take home and share with their families and neighbours.

I was at a workshop a few weeks ago on climate change. At one point a man in the audience jumped up and shouted that nothing changes, and ?some will live and some will die? and there?s nothing we can do about anything. Whew. Unfortunately, he left and missed a wonderful tale. It was a story about time-traveling twenty years into the future and the wonders of the environmentally, socially and economically sustainable world that had been created??one step at a time, using technology that mostly exists today. As long as we start making better choices now?

That?s what Stream of Dreams does??it imagines a better future and how we all can get there. So let?s follow the example of those indomitable salmon as they fight their way upstream in the rain, and fish by Dreamfish, let?s keep spawning ideas in minds, changing one at time toward a better future.

Download the entire newsletter (PDF).

My president's message for the June 2008 Stream of Dreams Murals Society Newsletter:

Spring has finally sprung and fry have been popping up in streams and creeks in our neighbourhoods.

This birth part of the salmon life cycle is an inspiring time, and I always feel uplifted when I spot fry in my local creek. I wish the wee tykes safe travels though I know that only a fraction of 1% of them will make it back to spawn. Such harsh statistics might seem sad, but you can also admire such persistence against overwhelming odds. ?My? stream??Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby, BC??has pollution and sedimentation problems, as do many urban waterways, and I feel relieved when I see fry appear and know they?ve made it through the winter.

Every fry counts, and every volunteer, every SDMS team member, every child, and every parent counts. It is all those small, individual efforts and individual awakenings that add up to great accomplishments.

When the local initiative that spawned Stream of Dreams began taking shape some ten years ago, nobody knew that it would grow into a program that would migrate across BC, across Canada, and eventually face international demand. I feel honoured to be part of this amazingly successful organization that spreads the word about keeping local watersheds clean and healthy??for the fry, for other animals, and for all of us.

Download the entire June 2008 Newsletter.

My president's message for the December 2007 Stream of Dreams Murals Society Newsletter:

What is it about Stream of Dreams that keeps me involved, that keeps me going? I think that answering that question would reveal a lot about our organization.

First, the people. ?It?s the people? is a tired clich? touted by corporate management and consultants, but our people are our power. We have an incredible group of dedicated, focused, creative people who believe in what they are doing, and who have fun doing it. The SDMS program simply could not be delivered in an effective manner without passionate people. That is true for all of our teams ?? they simply would not work if they were not made up of self-sacrificing, hard-working, inspirational people.

Second, our program. These days we are inundated by doom and gloom. I was recently at a conference where a keynote was entitled: ?Is Humanity Inherently Unsustainable?? Ouch! Yet our program is one of environmental education, art and hope that targets children ?? children who have the opportunity of being better stewards of Earth than previous generations have.

And last, our culture of doing rather than stewing. SDMS just keeps getting things done, and somehow the funding and administration follow. Like the salmon that guide us, we stubbornly keep swimming upstream. Here?s to great developments in 2008!

Download the entire December 2007 Newsletter.

My president's message for the June 2007 Stream of Dreams Murals Society Newsletter:

Thank you to all our hard-working teams, volunteers, staff, board directors, members and supporters! The SDMS continues to add teams and partnerships across Canada, and our award-winning educational program is reaching more participants at an ever-increasing pace. We couldn?t do it without you. It is a privilege to work with such passionate people, and I hope we can set up some events at which teams, staff, directors and volunteers can meet each other, and share techniques and ideas.

Polls show that Canadians are increasingly concerned about environmental issues, and we can capitalize on this trend to further spread our message of the importance of caring for our watersheds. All of those beautiful fish swimming on fences across our nation are symbols of hope for a future with clean water and a sustainable environment. I wish all of you well with your endeavours.

Download the entire June 2007 Newsletter.

Posted by Paul at 07:15 PM

January 15, 2009

Speechwriting Course

I've signed up for a speechwriting course with Colin Moorhouse -- check it out here. I heard Colin speak some years ago and was impressed. If you're a freelance writer or editor, you should subscribe to his newsletter.

I expect the course will stimulate my brain, and perhaps add to my services.

Posted by Paul at 12:00 PM

January 14, 2009

Eudora Blast From the Past

There was some discussion recently on the Editors' Association of Canada mailing list about email software, and several of us admitted to still using Eudora, which was orphaned over two years ago. It was first released in 1988, if I recall, and I'm still plugging away with version 5.1.

Some ardent fans are looking for replacements, as the Penelope project that was going to meld Eudora into Thunderbird doesn't seem to be progressing much.

Most people cited HTML-formatted email and display of other languages as two reasons to move on. I've come close to switching to Thunderbird several times, but the momentum of using Eudora for well over a decade keeps me shying away. Change! Learning a new interface and keyboard commands!

But I'll have to bite the bullet one of these days, because while I also have all of my email sent to Gmail, I still like downloading mail to my local computer.

Anyway, when I was poking around looking for Eudora-related material on the Web, I ran across this blast from the past:

"QUALCOMM's Eudora Software Selected by Microsoft for Distribution with Internet Explorer; Agreement joins most popular Internet email application with state-of-the-art Macintosh Web browser to provide integrated Internet messaging capabilities"

Business Wire, June 17, 1996

How times have changed...

Posted by Paul at 12:52 PM

Looking Forward to Wildlife Tree Workshop

As of this morning (Wednesday 1/14) Metro Vancouver still had spaces left in its Wildlife Tree Stewardship Workshop slated for 10:00 to noon this coming Saturday (1/17) at Burnaby Lake as part of its Parks Partners Program.

Yumi and I have signed up.

Wildlife Tree Stewardship Workshops

Wildlife trees may not look like much at first glance, but these standing trees ? dead or alive ? have qualities that can support up to 80 wildlife species for decades. Bald eagles and osprey nest in their crowns; woodpeckers, songbirds and ducks find food or shelter; bears make dens in their bases and bats roost in their bark.

You can help ensure that these critical pieces of wildlife habitat are protected ? and learn more about wildlife trees and the creatures that depend on them ? by becoming a volunteer wildlife tree steward.

Metro Vancouver, in partnership with the Wildlife Tree Stewardship Program (WiTS), is offering three Wildlife Tree Stewardship workshops:

Saturday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m. to noon Burnaby Lake Regional Park

Saturday, Feb. 14, 10 a.m. to noon Campbell Valley Regional Park

Saturday, March 14, 10 a.m. to noon Deas Island Regional Park

Each includes a 45-minute classroom component and hour-long field session in a regional park. Participants will learn how to identify wildlife trees, monitor active nests, help put together an inventory and contribute to the stewardship of these important natural resources.

Workshops are free. Advance registration is required.

For more information or to register, call (604) 432-6359 or email programs.info@metrovancouver.org

Posted by Paul at 09:56 AM

January 13, 2009

Appointed to City of Burnaby Environment Committee

I've been appointed to the City of Burnaby's Environment Committee as a citizen representative. Went to my first meeting last night, and was pleased to see several familiar faces among senior staff that I've worked with through my streamkeeping volunteering with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and the Edmonds Business and Community Association. I look forward to learning the ropes and contributing toward making Burnaby a great place to live, work and play.

Posted by Paul at 10:08 PM

Michael Jackson Big For Age

On the National Post's letters page today there is a photo of the Jackson Five, "circa 1960."

Michael is looking pretty big for a 2-year-old toddler, born in August 1958! :-).


If that doesn't work, go to National Post, Letters, and the "Motown" item.

Posted by Paul at 01:31 PM

January 12, 2009

Human Predators Impact Size of Prey

According to this article, "WASHINGTON (Reuters) ? Hunting and gathering has a profound impact on animals and plants, driving an evolutionary process that makes them become smaller and reproduce earlier, U.S. researchers reported on Monday."

"Their study of hunting, fishing and collecting of 29 different species shows that under human pressure, creatures on average become 20 percent smaller and their reproductive age advances by 25 percent."

Complete article here.

Over-harvesting of fish (and other species) results not only in reduced numbers, but smaller survivors....

If you think about this, it appears obvious -- think of trophy hunting -- we're constantly culling the biggest animals.

What does this say about the long-term sustainability of species that we "harvest"?

Posted by Paul at 04:43 PM

January 10, 2009

Testing Photo Posting With ScribeFire

Let's try posting a photo with ScribeFire. I'm having some trouble doing this....

OK, that finally seemed to work after I configured the FTP settings to my blog...

Except I don't see any way to add a border to the photo without going into editing the tag manually...

ScribeFire also seems to be doing something strange with paragraphs -- rather than using "p" tags it's using double "br" tags...

Posted by Paul at 10:19 PM

Trying Out ScribeFire

I am testing the ScribeFire blogging app from Firefox 3.0. It took awhile to get it to log in to my MovableType platform...

Posted by Paul at 09:37 PM

January 09, 2009

Upgrading IBM T42 Notebook

I decided to upgrade my IBM (now Lenovo) T42 notebook computer with more RAM and a larger hard disk. When I bought it some three years ago, it came with 1GB of RAM and a 60GB disk. In these days of massive photo files, 60GB disappears in a hurry, so I ordered a 160GB drive and a RAM kit to upgrade the machine to 2GB of RAM from CanadaRam.

CanadaRam's service so far has been excellent. A rep called me as soon as I filled out my order on their website to confirm things, and to let me know that the Seagate drive that I wanted was out of stock, but they had an equivalent Samsung drive. Never having bought a Samsung HD before, I asked what sort of reputation they had, and he said the drives seemed to be fast and reliable. A quick Google search confirmed that general experience, so I went ahead with the Samsung.

The package arrived in a day, and I got to work on replacing the RAM modules first. There were two 512MB modules in the notebook, one easily accessible beneath a panel on the underside of the machine, but the other entailed removing the keyboard to get at it. There are good RAM replacement instructions here.

Unfortunately, after I replaced the two 512MB modules with the two 1GB modules that I'd ordered, the computer kept freezing on boot, or occasionally Windows XP would load, but the machine would freeze upon trying to open an application. That can indicate a wonky RAM module, and when I shuffled one of the old 512MB units back into the computer, it ran fine. So for now I have 1.5GB of RAM, and will speak with CanadaRam about swapping the apparently defective 1GB module.

Next up, replacing the hard disk. Instructions for the physical swap are here. Before doing the physical swap, I installed the new 160GB Samsung drive in an external USB 2.0 enclosure, and used Acronis True Image Home 2009 to "clone" the old drive to the new one. Cloning means that all of the contents of the old drive are copied to the new drive sector by sector so that *everything* is exactly cloned -- OS, applications, data, the works.

After cloning the new drive, I did the physical swap, booted up, and everything ran perfectly. There was no change at all, aside from free space increasing from 4.7GB to 97.8GB. Success!

Posted by Paul at 03:55 PM

January 03, 2009

Snow Falling on Byrne Creek

It's still snowing in Burnaby, making for an enchanting walk around Byrne Creek this afternoon.

Heron in the snowy creek.

Yumi on the creek trail.

Paul on the creek trail.

Paul and Yumi on the footbridge.

Posted by Paul at 03:56 PM

January 02, 2009

Eagles on Squamish, Cheakamus Rivers

Thousands of eagles gather every winter along the Squamish, Cheakamus and Mamquam rivers in the vicinity of Squamish and Brackendale, BC. This year's count was way down, and there were few to be seen at Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park. Yumi and I got up close to some of these magnificent raptors near the Tenderfoot Hatchery.

Along the Squamish River.

A kingfisher along the road to the hatchery.

Bald eagle surveying the countryside.

Entrance to the hatchery.

This eagle was ringed by photographers but took the paparazzi in stride.

Yumi getting closer to the blase bird in the photo above.

Raptor working on what appeared to be a coho salmon carcass.

Large salmon carcass framed by chain-link fence.

There were at least six sated eagles resting in this tree.

Posted by Paul at 07:29 PM